🟪⬛ 19: Examine and optimize your fan journey in 30 minutes

Have you considered all the steps between music discovery and actually becoming a fan?

The idea for the Artist Lockdown Challenge started when I noticed a successful friend in music didn’t link to any of their online presences or shops from their SoundCloud tracks. “How will you reach random listeners again if they like your music, but don’t start following you on social media?” Not to mention the lost revenue. I suggested adding links to recent SoundCloud and YouTube tracks, and that’s the unofficial first task of the ALC before it was born. But right now, we’re going to do something slightly different.

Today: Examine and optimize your fan journey in 30 minutes

  1. Follow our example fan journey and optimize the steps to fan retention.

  2. Create your own fan journey based on your fan journey and optimize it.

Today we are going to work on a simplified model of a fan journey, exploring the steps from people encountering you for the first time to becoming a retained fan. Retained is a keyword there: retention is one of the most important goals and metrics for online services, media, and brands. For the sake of this exercise, we’ll define a retained fan as someone who follows you on one or more platforms and regularly engages with your music or content.

First we’ll follow and optimize an example journey that is applicable to most artists. Next, you’ll think of a journey specific to you and optimize it whenever you have time. Let’s dive in.

Building your fan journey framework

One of the most popular frameworks for startup metrics is called “AARRR” or pirate metrics, it stands for Acquisition; Activation; Retention; Revenue; Referral, with some of the Rs sometimes turned around depending on the business. For today, we are focusing on the first three:

  • Acquisition: how do people discover you & your music, so Discovery.

  • Activation: how do people engage with you, so Engagement.

  • Retention: how will people show repeat engagement over time?

Step one: Get discovered by new fans

First, write down all the likely places people might discover your music, be they friend recommendations (through which medium?), recommendation engines (what platforms?), social media e.g. through people sharing your posts, radio airplay (where?), playlists (which? platform?), etc. Try to identify the most important ones today that will still be important 6 months from now.

Step two: Engage acquired fans

For the sake of this example fan journey, let’s say the next step from Discovery is that people Google you on their way to Engagement. What do they Google? If they’ve seen you in a playlist, they might Google your name. If they heard your latest song on the radio, your lyrics or a misspelling of your name. Try it out and see what the search results are like. Will they have to type “music” next to your name to find you as an artist? What are the first results? Note down what you’d ideally like to see here. 

A very common Google search results page order for more established artists is: a carousel of videos at the top, then Wikipedia, then your YouTube channel, then your homepage.

Example of a video carousel at the top of Google’s search results.

If the video carousel is showing, click the top left video. If it’s not, go to your most viewed YouTube video, which is usually the one in these results. The very first result on search pages tends to get the most traffic. It should now be clear for people how they can follow you on YouTube as well as on another platform, such as Instagram. If not, take notes, so you can improve this. (there’s another YouTube task with more optimization instructions coming to your inbox tomorrow!)

Next, click your Instagram link from the video description. Landing on your Instagram profile, be super critical: how enticing is it? Is it clear to people what they get when they follow you? Does it invite people to engage?

Step three: Retain existing fans

Once people follow you, recurring engagement (aka retention) will depend on your content calendar from day 4. Keep this goal in mind when working on your calendar.

Optimize your fan journey

For optimization, it may help to look at your fan journey as a funnel or an upside down triangle. At the first step at the top, you’ll have 100% of people who have discovered your music. At the bottom, you may have about 10% of people who actually become retained fans. You can usually measure some of the steps in between (we’ll get into this next week), but for now let’s estimate.

If you’re short on time and have too much to improve:

  • Write down the steps.

  • Write 1000 at the first step and imagine how many people you’d lose there, e.g. 80%.

  • Write down 200 at the next step and repeat.

  • Prioritize fixing the steps where you lose the most people.

  • If you have ‘quick wins’ (things that don’t take a lot of time, but have a decent impact), commit to doing them anyway.

Finally, consider your own fan personas and how they might come across your music. Write down a possible fan journey that doesn’t include Google. What does that journey look like until retention? Where can you optimize?


  • For a more detailed version, you can read a guide I wrote a few years ago about sustainable growth hacking for fan bases.

  • Make sure to jump into the Discord community. This is a perfect assignment to collaborate with your fellow challenge-takers and ask feedback from music industry experts.


🟪 Need help? Join us on Discord and get help from the Artist Lockdown Challenge community.

⬛️ Task done? We’re happy to share the results: tag @artistlockdownchallenge on Instagram and we’ll repost.


🟪⬛️ artistlockdownchallenge.com | instagram | discord